Categories: shopping

Nothing captures the spirit of a place like a beautifully crafted item, locally and lovingly made. These are pieces or produce born of Northern Ireland, inspired by its heritage and traditions, though sometimes with a modern twist. They speak from the heart and make some of the most memorable gifts you’ll ever find. Northern Ireland is full of such pieces – here are just some of them. 

Belleek Pottery

Established in 1857, Belleek Pottery sits in the picturesque village of Belleek on the banks of the Lough Erne. This is where the world-famous Belleek Fine Parian China starts its life – formed using traditional methods passed down from generation to generation.  

Of course, over time Belleek Pottery has evolved. So, today you can choose pieces from the original collections – the delicate bowls, vases, photo frames and lamps that Belleek is so well-known for. Or opt for the unique modern style of its candleholders, brooches and jewellery. A guided tour takes you behind the scenes to see the craftsmen at work. There’s also a Visitor Centre, audio-visual theatre and a gift shop where you’ll find your own authentic piece of Belleek. 

Thomas Ferguson Linen 

Thomas Ferguson's Irish linen is widely acknowledged as the finest linen Jacquard weaver in the world, using high quality yarns and modern looms to produce an unusually soft and fine linen damask cloth - strong enough to last a lifetime. 

A visit to the factory in Banbridge will reveal the secrets of this traditional art, taking you through the various production stages from design through to weaving, specialist cutting, hemming and ornamenting. You’ll also learn all about the rich history of Irish Linen and have a chance to purchase some fine linen tablecloths, bedsheets or handkerchiefs yourself.  

Bushmills Whiskey

A giant among whiskeys, Bushmills Whiskey has been produced in the small village of Bushmills since King James I first granted a licence to distil back in 1608. A lot has changed since then – though not the whiskey. Its golden hues continue to be enjoyed the world over. 

A visit to the Old Bushmills Distillery is a must for whiskey lovers and for those curious to see how this unique whiskey has been made for centuries. And still is today. 

A guided tour takes you through the copper pot stills, the production process and bottling lines - ending, of course, in the tasting room. Have lunch in the restaurant, then pick up some Bushmills-inspired treats to bring home.  

Steenson's Jewellery

With a flagship store on Belfast’s Bedford Street, Steenson’s are recognised as Northern Ireland’s leading independent craft jewellers. Set up by Bill and Christina Steenson in 1976, today their work continues to be inspired by Northern Ireland’s natural landscape and geometric forms. 
 
Perhaps this in turn inspired the makers of Games of Thrones. They commissioned a number of pieces for the series which were seen by audiences around the world. 

You can see how their bold, innovative and contemporary designs come to life at their jewellery and silversmithing workshop in the village of Glenarm where it all began.  

Born & Bred

Born & Bred brings together local designers and crafters at their Belfast studio and shop to create stunning and sometimes quirky pieces with a unique Northern Ireland flavour. Their work, in the words of founder Linzi Rooney, “involves mentoring makers, welcoming people into our studio and selling beautiful, locally-made gifts in our shop”. 

Take some time to potter about here and you might see ceramic makers, painters or textile designers at work. There are up and coming fashion designers, artisan coffee and candle makers. And Linzi herself who turns antique cutlery into amazing jewellery. It’s a treasure trove of unique gift ideas. The challenge is to decide which piece you like best. 

If you’re looking for an authentic piece of Northern Ireland to take back home – in addition to the memories and new friends you’ve made, of course – you won’t have to look too far. 
 
Every corner of Northern Ireland has something unique, from old established names to fun and feisty newcomers. You just have to get out there and find them. And that’s all part of the adventure.